Pelhřimov - Strměchy

Pelhřimov - Strměchy

Approximately in the middle of D1 Highway from Prague to Brno there is an exit for Pelhřimov. This town is located in a slightly hilly countryside at an altitude of 500 metres with almost 17,000 inhabitants and it is a Historic Town Reserve. A pilgrimage place of Křemešník (765 metres) with good water, church and a view-tower dominates the area. Pelhřimov is a seat of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) congregation.

In the year 1290 king Wenceslas II gave a permission to establish a town in this place. Soon it started to develop around the Church of St. Vitus. The town reached its bigger development also in connection with a colonization which was partly German.

During the Hussite wars Pelhřimov supported the Hussites. One of the most significant personalities and thinkers of the Hussite movement was Mikuláš Biskupec of Pelhřimov who also advocated the Hussite requirements in the Council of Basel in the year 1433. In Pelhřimov there were the Provincial Congresses taking place regularly. The 16th century was a period of a development; in the year 1596 Pelhřimov was declared a royal town. After the Revolt of the Estates in 1618 the town was affected by the reprisals as well as by big fires. Paradoxically, this meant a chance for a building development: on the square we can find various architectural styles, from Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque to Art Nouveau, functionalism and finally Cubism, the example of which is Fára house from the years 1913–1914 designed by architect Pavel Janák.

In the town we can find many other historical buildings. Let us remind us of the most important monument, Church of St. Vitus from the second or the third quarter of the 13th century. During the Hussite period there was a communion in both kinds. The Church was being rebuilt in a Renaissance style, later in a Baroque style. Early Baroque altar with an altar painting of St. Florian from the year 1687 is very valuable. The altar belongs among the movable cultural monuments of the Vysočina Region. If it is a nice weather, we can have a great view from the tower of the originally Gothic Church of St. Bartolomew.

After the declaration of the Toleration Patent there were no Protestants in Pelhřimov. As late as in the year 1910 a preaching station of Strměchy congregation was founded here. The biggest problem for the Pelhřimov Protestants was to find a place for gathering. They tried many times to find a suitable place-in a pub, at school, in a former Jewish synagogue..As late as in the year 1991 they got a gift from the town-a house in Růžová Street. Thanks to the enormous effort of congregation members, support of town as well as friends from home and abroad the house could undergo a complete reconstruction. Opening of Čedok travel agency offices on the ground floor of the building was also very helpful. The congregation house was inaugurated on the 30th of May 1993. Nowadays, Pelhřimov and Strměchy create one congregation.

Seven kilometres east of the town, in the Křemešník Highlands lies a village of Strměchy (584 metres above sea level, 133 inhabitants). The first record of its existence dates back to the year 1379. Pelhřimov region as well as Strměchy have a Hussite tradition. The secret Protestants used to survive here also in the hard times of the counter-Reformation. The local nobility was not in a hurry as for the declaration of the Toleration Patent in 1781. The people in Strměchy learned about its declaration from the relatives by chance and they chose a Reformed confession. But they did not meet the strict toleration regulations because they were not enough of them. Therefore they joined far away Moraveč. The number of the Protestants was however gradually rising and in the year 1787 a branch congregation was founded in Strměchy. Its members started to consider a construction of a house of prayer immediately. They found a land in a small hill above the village, they as well provided wood for the construction. In November 1788 a new house of prayer was consecrated. It was a very simple one, with a soil floor and very small windows. Later, especially after the abolishing of the toleration measures it could be equipped better. The tower however was not added so the house of prayer kept its simple but impressive appearance. The cemetery nearby is also original, there are tombstones of the first preachers.

The independent congregation was established in the year 1869. Rectory was built in the middle of the village. Behind the rectory there is a vast land and attic rooms in an annex of the building. The repairs from the end of the 90s of the 20th century were mostly done for the recreational purposes since a seat of the congregation is in Pelhřimov.